Students, staff and friends of Commonwealth Connections Academy will shoot free throws from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, March 26, at Jim Thorpe High School, 1100 Center St., Jim Thorpe to raise awareness and funds for children severely affected by the HIV and AIDS virus in Africa.

Hoops of Hope, is a fundraising project started by now 15-year old Austin Gutwein. Hoops of Hope encourages children, teens and adults to shoot 1000 free throws to represent the 1000 children orphaned every 4 hours by HIV/AIDS.

Participants will be involved in a half-time free throw frenzy to try to break last year's record of 500 free throws in 40 minutes.

Along with the free throw event, there will be a basket raffle and half-court challenge where everyone is invited to help the group raise funds. A free hot dog and drink will be available to all who attend.

Austin's passion to help children has led to thousands of participants and raised approximately $1 million over the past five years.

Hoops of Hope events have funded the building of a high school for 1000 students, a medical lab and counseling center and most recently, a water project in Kenya as well as a second medical clinic in Zambia.

This year, the goal is to raise $580,000 to complete dormitories for the high school as well as to provide for care centers to be built in Swaziland. 100% of all Hoops of Hope funds go to World Vision (www.worldvision.org), who facilitate the building of Hoops of Hope projects.

Every 14 seconds a child is orphaned by AIDS somewhere in the world, according to the United Nations. This means that every day, more that 6,000 children join the 15 million children worldwide who have already lost one or both parents to this disease.